I reviewed Petey’s album Lean into Life when it came out, and it’s been intermittently on repeat ever since. (Like last month, for example; I’ll get to my Monthly Obsessions soon.) His latest single, “Did I Mention I’m Sorry” came on a mix and so I thought I’d review it here.
To be honest, I almost didn’t recognize the song as a Petey song. It’s slower and quieter than much of Lean, yet in an interesting contrast, Petey himself sings faster and breathier. On Lean, his voice is a loud yelp that’s incredibly earnest without being harsh. The chorus of “Sorry” features a ghost of that yelp, which is when I finally recognized it as a Petey single. You hear his same earnestness here; it’s even in the song title.
Petey covers themes of nostalgia (“More to Life Than Baseball”) and confronting the past (“Don’t Tell the Boys”) mixed with the mundane elements of life (“Apple TV Remote”). “Sorry” is mostly about the past and addressing a bygone relationship. He so expertly walks the line between wanting to say sorry and deflecting it as sarcasm. His vulnerability is one of the reasons why I love his music.
Jennifer Warnes was the new discovery for this month. I love her dismissal of common love tropes and her earnestness about being herself, no matter what. This is obviously most present on “Don’t Make Me Over,” but it also appears on “I Know a Heartache When I See One,” which is one of the most self-aware songs I’ve heard in a minute. Swamp pop reappeared this month – always and forever a favorite; I’m grateful that I discovered it. Sometimes songs and genres appear in your life and feel right. Speaking of always and forever favorites, I “rediscovered” The Replacements this month. The ‘Mats are usually in the background somewhere – I listen to them off and on regularly – but for whatever reason, I dove back in this month. “Little Mascara” was the standout of theirs that I listened to this month. It’s a more obscure cut, and you know me: I always go for the obscure. I found a music blog that discusses The ‘Mats, which is rare. That made me happy, obviously, to find like-minded souls out there, but I also had to laugh because they kept saying that X song was the best one Paul Westerberg had ever written. And then another blog post would allege that no, Y song was the best one he’d ever written. It proves that The Replacements have an extensive catalogue of hits beyond “Can’t Hardly Wait.”
Not kidding when I say I ran over here as soon as I heard this song! I’ve talked about Tom’s voice before, and now that it’s changed, it suits the age and melancholy of this song in a better way. You hear the slight emo of their earlier songs with the line, “I miss you,” but overall, “One More Time” strikes me as a song about growing up and not wanting to move on. “Do I have to die to hear you miss me?/Do I have to die to hear you say goodbye?/I don’t want to act like there’s tomorrow/I don’t want to wait to do this one more time.”
The slow acoustic of the song is also quite beautiful. And I love how “One More Time” ends with an echoing church bell. That’s unique and feels perfectly final.
This came on my radar while browsing Twitter (now X) recently. I hadn’t thought of this song in years, but as soon as I saw the title, very clear childhood memories came rushing back. Amazing how transporting a song can be, you know? It’s also fun because this isn’t, say, “Yesterday” or “Wonderwall” or the like – it’s a pop song, for sure, but a more obscure one that isn’t an intuitive choice for a cover. Soccer Mommy hits it out of the park (or the field, as it were).
I may have talked about this in other Covers Corner posts, but I’ve noticed that covers tend to articulate lyrics more. This song is no exception. I like that, though. It turns the song into something more reflective and relatable, like a song that a millennial would write about not having any money but wanting to live life to the fullest anyway. After all, “it’s not having what you want. It’s wanting what you’ve got.” Soccer Mommy’s version is quieter, too, or at least more restrained and understated. Sheryl Crow’s version was louder and full of abandon. In that way, I like Soccer Mommy’s version better. Its reflectiveness suits me and I find it more relatable.
A new discovery! The Replacements are one of my all-time favorite bands, and “Swingin Party” came up just now while I was listening on shuffle. I needed to confirm some lyrics, so I googled, and lo and behold: Lorde covered it. I love how rabbit holes work like that.
Anyway, I like this cover a lot. Lorde sings much more clearly than Paul Westerberg does. That’s a trend I’ve noticed in my years of doing Covers Corner: covers tend to articulate lyrics much more than the originals. I’m not sure why that is. I also think as an artist overall she fits. “Swingin Party” has the dismal, atmospheric tone that “Ribs” does, or even “Royals.” Those songs also talk about looking for a party somewhere, but maybe when you get there, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. The backing trip-hop is quieter than “Ribs,” and its sparseness makes her vocals stand out even more. Its gloominess is also poignant somehow; see also “Here Comes a Regular,” one of my other favorite Replacements songs.
The Replacements are an all-time band for me, as I’ve probably mentioned before, so it’s not too surprising that they appear on this playlist. What might be surprising is the deep cut I picked this month: “Nightclub Jitters.” The song sounds almost nothing like their other work: it’s slower, more thoughtful, and I can’t hear any drums. Contrast that with “Can’t Hardly Wait,” which is one of The Replacements’ best-known songs: a cut that is distinctive from jump and features Paul Westerberg’s somewhat raspy voice in its best light.
I’m not too familiar with Grimes, admittedly, beyond her feature on “Pynk,” but I discovered “Genesis” through her KEXP performance off a list of top KEXP features. That live version is excellent; it’s also interesting to see electronic music performed live: all the twists and dials. You’d think that as a result, electronic music would always sound the same, but it doesn’t. On KEXP, Grimes sounds lighter and more atmospheric.
Alex Melton has been releasing some absolute jams of late, but I picked two that I like. His countryfied cover of “I Miss You” by Blink-182 hits a little different and almost sounds sadder than the original. Meanwhile, “American Idiot” takes me back to middle school.
Speaking of songs that take me back, “Bullet Train” by Stephen Swartz was my introduction to dubstep years ago. I couldn’t find the acoustic version, which is really what I was listening to this month, but have the original for a classic of the genre.
This month was surprisingly atmospheric to start with. The slow, methodical songs “It Only Has To Happen Once” and “Photograph” both have similar beats. They’re both mystical, too; “Photograph” has a shimmery, tremulous overlay, especially in the beginning.
“American Ambition” was the standout of the month. I found it randomly on Twitter, actually. The narrative is so compelling and recalls folk ballads by Crosby, Stills, & Nash or the Everly Brothers.
Speaking of Crosby, Stills, & Nash, their iteration with Neal Young appeared this month, too. “4 + 20” was a find from a book I’ve been reading, and which I’ll review soon. It’s a unique song because you can hear the pause/gulp in the middle of the narrative, which interrupts the beat.
“Is She Really Going Out With Him?” was probably the song I listened to the most after “4 + 20.” It’s whiny, sure, but incredibly catchy, too. You can’t always dismiss a song for being whiny; sometimes you have to love it for what it is.
What were your standouts? What have you been listening to lately?
Kicking off this past month with a stadium-sized banger in “To the Top” by Twin Shadow. I’ve got two other favorite songs of his, “Too Many Colors” and “Beg for the Night,” both of which are quieter – pensive, even. His husky voice really has range.
“Sedona” is a jangly favorite revisited. I like its Old West vibes and slightly twangy guitar line. I had forgotten the song existed until the lyrics came back to me – as so often happens – and I rediscovered it. I love when that happens. I feel like I’m reopening a treasure box.
The Who kind of turned into a comfort band this month. “Baba O’Riley” is just such a good song. I’ve written extensively about it, here and elsewhere, so I don’t know what more there is to say. Other than that I reach for the song when I need something beautiful. And “Won’t Get Fooled Again” has been memed to death, but that howling yeeeaaahhhhh is pure rock’n’roll.
I don’t know if “So Weird” by Veruca Salt will show up on the playlist, but it was another song on repeat. I like the beginning of the song in particular. The guitar is a slow, careful drone that eventually explodes, while the drums are incredibly heavy. I reach for this song when I need not to care.
One of my favorite songs is “Whole Wide World” by Wreckless Eric. It’s deceptively slow punk with a chugging start and soft vocals that crash into the chorus. The chorus itself has the signature sneer of punk, but it’s so heartfelt that the posturing sheen wears away quickly.
Billie Joe Armstrong took a turn at the song and pulled it off. A big reason for this is because of his accent. I believe I’ve linked to this article before, but the surf rock culture that gave rise to California punk also gave rise to its own distinctive vocal style. As Armstrong once said, he’s an American faking a British accent faking an American accent. That’s perfectly suited to a classic punk song like “Whole Wide World.” He doesn’t have quite the same grit, nor is his voice nearly as exaggerated, but it’s pretty near perfect to my ears. I feel like I don’t often feature covers that are so closely matched to each other like that. Recently, covers seem to be slow acoustic renditions of pop songs. Which isn’t a bad thing! I’m fascinated by those trends. But here, I like the strong echoes of the original that run through Armstrong’s rendition of “Whole Wide World.” As usual, I’ve included both below. Give a listen and let me know: are they really that closely matched? Which do you like better? (I honestly can’t say myself.)
More of an EP this go-round, but these are a couple of the songs I had on repeat this past month.
Two songs from the Drive soundtrack, which is a unique choice given that I… haven’t seen the movie. Idk, man, the soundtrack is excellent. And I was listening for the nostalgia factor more than anything else. Whenever I hear the opening drone of “A Real Hero,” I’m transported back to college when it was on repeat for everyone else, too. (Plus the “real human bean” meme, which I was only tangentially aware of.)
Two “oldies” songs close out the EP. I always think that “Video Killed the Radio Star” is an ’80s song, but it actually came out in the late ’70s! And it was the kickoff song for MTV, fittingly enough.